Thursday, December 28, 2017

down at the teknoclub

via Steeeve Cross, a cool doc on the early days of German techno

which (and this a topic to return to later in greater depth) predated the Detroit use of the word techno

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

it was 20 years ago today

A cool find by Tim Finney (currently annotating his yearly run-through at ILM of 2017 tracks literally nobody else in the world has heard) in the form of some classic-era styled (but somehow not exactly retro)  drum + bass by OneMind

Here's what he says about it:

"There are many things I miss about mid-nineties jungle, but one aspect that’s hard to put into words is the curious emotional ambivalence its best tunes so often imparted, that oxymoronic mix of steel-eyed alertness and paranoia with melting dreaminess. At its expansive mid-nineties pinnacle, in exploring literally-never-before-heard sonic hinterlands, jungle also frequently pioneered what you might call emotional between-states: violently happy, gently murderous.“Early Daze” - a tune which seems happy to call back to just about every era of jungle’s history - channels that ambivalence in part through its frequent return to that most inscrutable of breaks, Apache, those high-pitched, quicksilver bongo hits somehow evoking (or invoking) the unbearable lightness of being even as they slugs you across the jaw. It’s a broader theme, the tune expertly navigating the intersection of light and dark previously trod by Photek’s “The Water Margin” or Metalheadz’ “Angel”: disembodied diva sighs swirl around airy rave chords and compressed, late nineties d&b bass bleeps. But most of all this vibe resides in the rhythm, delicate but sharp, and endlessly mutating; the way it ceaselessly cycles between motifs, seeming to up the ante with each frenzied hop, as synth riffs sizzle and fall like acid rain around it."

YouTube then promptly took me to another Metalheadz release from this year that also had that "future frozen" feel   - somehow paused / poised in 96-97, at that (arguable) "Metropolis" / Source Direct peak of the genre: the evolution of a form not taken any further, but not really outflanked or surpassed either... the Movement immobilised...  just hovering there/then, perfectly.

Funnily enough I've been digging some contemporary D+B that fell into my earshot more or less by chance - more on that later

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"the ghosts of '94"

[also via Jon Dale]

re-e-wind the clock of time for further memoradelic jungalizm courtesy Chris Adams of Hood

that track is the most Amentalist of the emanations on Shadows of the Short Days

the rest is more disassembled and time-corroded, the missing link between Third Eye Foundation and The Caretaker maybe...

while this is like vintage IDM when it was good (i.e. before it was known as IDM)

some earlier Downpour "drum and bass seances" that be "summoning up the ghosts of '94"

including this tune which was among my faves of 2017 - whatever that actually means in this time-scrambled era-not-era   - especially given it's ghosting of "Sovereign Melody"

(and in fact checking i see that while I heard it in 2017 it actually came out in 2016)

Monday, December 25, 2017

breakdown breakbeats

[via Jon Dale]

release back story:

Billa Bronx is a mask of Astro Nautico co-owner Bennett Kuhn. Kuhn lost his father to ALS in 2009. 'Father Forgive' was recorded in 2012, just months before Kuhn was admitted to a psychiatric ward on Long Island in response to symptoms of psychosis and hypomania. Kuhn was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — a diagnosis his father shared. Kuhn took a five-year hiatus from releasing recorded music to convalesce. Billa Bronx comprises some of the artist’s last musical inspiration before stepping into silence. 

'Father Forgive' was captured in single takes in Kuhn’s childhood home on Long Island using hardware synthesizers and loopers, effects pedals and breakbeat editing software from 1999. The only computer used was his father’s voice communication device, acquired after neurological degeneration had rendered him mute. Kuhn repurposed the machine to speak mangled drum loops in polyrhythmic contortions, articulating a visceral, damaged, wordless expression of grief and revolt. 

At 28, Kuhn is now publicly outing his bipolar in solidarity with others affected by mental health diagnoses. Billa Bronx unromantically asks us to consider what role our emotional extremes play in the overall course of our health, and what power music has to temper or unleash them. “You must cross a line to know where it lies.”

*Note on appropriation: Recognizing that black British immigrants from Jamaica and the West Indies were progenitors of jungle culture, the gross proceeds from this release will be donated to a travel fund offering cultural exchange opportunities to youth internationally ( 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

GABBING ABOUT GABBER: a brutalitarian resurgence a/k.a the return of apocalypso-disco?

Resident Advisor says that 2017 was the year that hardcore came back strong

Certainly it was the year of the Mover fulfilling his chiliastic promise "see you in 2017" with a return to high-profile deejaying at techno festivals and the release of a remastered anthology of his greatest ravefloor smashers, although the heralded new full-length album by Marc Acardipane under his most famous moniker has been bumped back to 2018, marring slightly the neat circularity of his comeback coming in 2017 as promised earlier thisyear.

The RA report also points to  Paul Elstak penetrating the Netherlands pop chart for the first time in a long while...

... to the Parisian squad Casual Gabberz's parties and its Inutile De Fuir compilation of this year

.... to the activities of Poland's WIXAPOL and Sweden's Drömfakulteten collectives...

 ... to the Gabber Eleganza blog and its roving The Hakke Show performances....

.... to the punitively intense Unpolished parties thrown by Amsterdam's Reaktor Events (which they trumpet as their "most hard-lined techno concept" and a "yearly ordeal"!) ...

... and to various other manifestations of a renewed appetite for brutalitarian aesthetics.

It makes perfect sense that the ravenous maw that is retroculture would sooner or later turn  for nourishment to possibly the last remaining un-ransacked resource of renegade commitment, outsider ferocity - an un-exceeded extreme. 

Incidentally, four of the nine trends that defined 2017 according to RA's overview involve the prefix "re" - the return of Electro (what, again?);  the resurgence of Eurohardcore;  the fact that it's a boom time for "new old" music, i.e. the rediscovery of forgotten music or recovery of never-known-about or never-even-really-released music from the archival electronic dance past;  and yet another rediscovery / rehabilitation / revisionism syndrome, i.e. the rewiring of techno with EBM and Industrial influences (M.E.S.H. , Perc, Tzusing, Phase Fatale,  et al). That last one possibly feeds into, or makes logical, the rehabilitation of gabba, given that it's part of the prehistory of Eurohardcore (although the nu-EBM is a lot slower). 

Also talking up the vintage gabba is this post + mix at Marc Dauncey's Mutant Technology blog -  titled"Gabber House" and described as "an hour and forty minutes exploring the murky world of hardcore techno, gabber and a sprinkling of jungle and breakcore, ranging from 150 to well over 240 bpm, from 1992 right up to the present day." Excellent stuff with a disconcerting large number of names and titles unfamiliar to me, but then  fully tracking the raging and ranging enormity of the Eurohardkore Kontinuum through the Nineties would've required total commitment to the genre / area, and I've always had ears for too many other things  

And finally a reminder about ArteTetra's recent gabber-influenced cassette release Svelto: the Hakken Tuner  (discussed in this earlier blog post) by  DJ Balli - who I had the pleasure of meeting in Bologna last week - and Giacoma Balla

A fan of the Italian Futurists as well as Phuture Tekno, Balli also authored - under his full name Riccardo Balli - the aptly titled 2012 book Apocalypso Disco: La Rave-O-Luzione Della Post Techno.  Blurbed thusly at Amazon (excuse the crude Google translation job here):

"At the end of the eighties, the element of techno music was imposed as a viral macrocode on which thousands and thousands of young people recognized themselves. In the following two decades a nuclear fission took place which split it into small atoms: the breakcore, the 8 bit, the gabber, the mashup, the goa-trance, the mutant dancefloor ... An international galaxy almost impossible to tell . In this text Riccardo Balli analyzes the different musical and attitudinal ramifications of the post rave through oral tales, literary remixes, visionary interventions and interviews with producers and protagonists. The goal is focused on the dynamics of a political nature that have generated assault groups, extreme situations and new lifestyles: speedcore, psy community,, Elevate Festival and the world of chiptunes. A multitude of noises, ideas and movements whose spurious and transversal sound is called Apocalypso disco." 

(I mentioned to Balli my dim recollection of having once operated - in partnership with Margin / Monitor comrade Paul Oldfield - a deejay duo team that traded under the name Apocalypso. We were not hugely successful in our appeal to the Oxford student market)

Balli also is involved in the label / organisation Sonic Belligeranza ("hard-electronics blaxploitation since the year 2000") and a contributor to Datacide, the original  intellectual hardcore / hardcore intellectual zine.

Datacide is still active on the web and intermittently in print too (there's a new issue just out in fact - #17, details of the contents and how to purchase here).

Recently Datacide held a panel discussion about retro both in and outside dance culture, titled next:now - strategies to resample the future and what do you know, there's a quote from the intro to Retromania right at the front...

"Once upon a time, pop‘s metabolism buzzed with dynamic energy, creating the surging-in-to-the-future feel of periods like the psychedelic sixties, the post-punk seventies, the hip-hop eighties and the rave nineties. The 2000s felt different.…  Instead of being the threshold to the future, the first then years of the twenty-first century turned out to be the ‚Re‘ Decade … revivals, reissues, remakes,
re-enactments. Endless retrospection...."

Hyperstasis  - the apocalypse as atemporality, entropy, the whimper


Phuturism - apocalypse as teleology, conflagration=consummation, the BANG.